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How Does Telemedicine Work?

Posted by David Ghiorso, CPA, April 2, 2020

As we all practice social distancing and try to stay at home as much as possible, you might be wondering how you can access medical care safely. That’s why many healthcare providers and insurance companies are partnering to expand the use of telemedicine.

For many common complaints, mild illnesses, and other questions, a full office visit might not be necessary. In this case you can consult with a physician through an online portal, receive answers to your questions, obtain prescription medications, and more.

How does it work? A telemedicine appointment might seem complicated at first, but it’s actually very easy after you get the hang of it. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions, and log into their online portal using a laptop with a webcam, or simply your smartphone.

You will need a reliable internet connection, of course. You might also wish to practice with your camera once or twice, so that you get comfortable with communicating this way.

You will chat, face to face with your healthcare provider, who will ask you the same questions you typically answer at a regular appointment. If you’re experiencing a mild illness you can receive a diagnosis, and your provider will send your prescription to the pharmacy of your choice.

Telemedicine appointments should not be used for emergencies. If you’re experiencing chest pains, difficulty breathing, or other serious symptoms you should proceed to an emergency room as you normally would. And of course, some tests must be performed in person, so it is possibly your telemedicine provider will ask you to schedule an appointment for lab work, x-rays, and so on.

Benefits of telemedicine. Avoiding waiting rooms, which can be hotbeds of communicable illness, is the main benefit of using telemedicine. And of course, you can save time and avoid the need to travel.

Call your healthcare provider and inquire whether they offer telemedicine appointments, especially during this unusual time. Medicare has begun to cover this type of care, where it is offered.  As we continue to practice social distancing to flatten the curve of the coronavirus pandemic, more and more providers are advising their patients to utilize this healthy and convenient option.

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